More than 2,300 Syrian refugees poured into Turkey during a 24-hour period, bringing to 22,000 the total number of Syrians seeking haven in the neighbouring country, a Turkish official told AFP on Thursday.
Turkey is home to a growing number of refugees fleeing the unrest in Syria, where more than 9,000 people have been killed since March last year, according to UN figures.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 2,350 refugees crossed the border during a single day.
Turkey says it’s ready to extend help to the Syrians, but it also fears the number of arrivals could soar to the level of the half-million Iraqi Kurds who poured across the border to escape Saddam Hussein’s repression during the 1991 Gulf War.
Turkish officials have contingency plans in the event of a larger-scale incursion as Syrian regime forces storm opposition towns near the Turkish border.
Currently, the government has set up nine locations including eight tented camps and a “container city” in Kilis, some 150 kilometres (95 miles) east of the Hatay camps, to deal with the influx.
Turkey, which is also playing host to a large Syrian opposition community including rebels defecting from the army, has broken a former alliance with the Damascus regime and urged President Bashar al-Assad to quit.